Dr. Red Bear sat in his car, staring questioningly at the Hyperion hotel. It wasn’t at all what he expected a Detective Agency to look like. But this was the address on the business card.
The doctor had contemplated waiting until dark and breaking in to search for the necklace. But John didn’t know for sure if the necklace was even in the hotel. And well, the aborted break-in attempt at the museum aside, John wasn’t really inclined to commit burglary.
No, he thought, he could learn more by trying to gain Wesley Wyndam- Price’s trust to find out if there was actually a client and where the necklace was located.
Angel glanced away from Wesley’s narrative on what had transpired between the investigators and the Professor. Angel stared at the doorway as Dr. Red Bear walked into the lobby.
Wesley broke off his recital of the day’s events. “Dr. Red Bear,” he gawked.
“Mr. Wyndam-Price, Mr. Gunn,” the Professor nodded to the two stupefied slacked jawed men. He turned to Angel. John narrowed his eyes in consternation at the dark man’s intense scrutiny. “You are….”
“Um, Dr. Red Bear, this is Angel. Angel this is Dr. Red Bear, the expert we went to see at the University,” Wesley introduced.
“Angel? The Angel of Angel Investigations?” the Professor asked.
The vampire merely nodded.
“Yoa, Doc, why are you here? Have you found something or remembered something?” interjected Gunn.
“Maybe,” the bronzed young man answered. “I was thinking about your questions after you left and I got curious, so I reread some of the older renditions of Native American legends. I may have found a relevant myth.”
“Yes, I unearthed a fable involving an ancient necklace. The story was incomplete, but it suggested that the necklace had miraculous healing abilities.”
“Did the story explain the origins of the necklace and its purpose? Did it describe the piece of jewelry? Was it comprised of turquoise and rose quartz?” Wesley fired the questions at the Professor.
“The story did not mention a description or the necklace’s origins. Just that it was the ultimate healing tool.”
“Was there any indication that it was a instrument of good or evil?” interrupted Angel. “Did it say what the effects of it’s power had on its possessor? Did it?” He asked urgently.
“Again, no. As I said, the story was incomplete. But traditionally the power to heal is considered a good one, not one of evil. But, why are you so concerned, the story is obviously just a parable? That is why you came to me, right? To prove to your susceptible client that the old shaman’s tales were false?”
“Well, yes, of course,” stuttered Wesley. “But, you really haven’t added any new information. Did you bring the book, I think it would beneficial if I had a chance to study it.”
Dr. Red Bear shrugged. “ No. I left it in the office. I thought perhaps I maybe able to speak to your client.”
“Why? You didn’t seem to be all that interested before,” Gunn asked suspiciously.
“Like I said, I thought about what you said after you left. And the fact that someone is out there using a ‘Native American” legend to deceive someone that wants to believe in the attributes of Shamanism irritates me. Shamanism is a real. And to dismiss its truths by basing some sort of con game on its tenets is unconscionable. So, if you’re still willing I would like to talk to the young lady and expose the fake Shaman.”
Angel’s scrutiny of the young doctor was diverted as he sensed Cordelia about to descend the stairs. He quickly moved up the stairs to intercept his seer. Angel wasn’t sure about the Professors sincerity. Angel had nothing specific to point at to confirm his uneasiness. But where Cordelia’s safety was concerned he would take no chances.
Angel stopped Cordelia on the steps out of view from the downstairs occupants. He placed his hand gently over her mouth, as she was about to speak. Her brown eyes widened in both questions and indignation at the vampire’s actions.
“Just listen,” he whispered, pulling the resisting girl back up the stairs.
“Angel, what is going on and let me go,” she griped as soon as he released her mouth, keeping her voice low at the vampire’s insistence.
“The ‘expert’ is downstairs. He wants to meet our client.”
“What client?’ she whispered. Cordelia hadn’t been downstairs when Wesley had explained the lie he had told to the Professor.
Angel quickly told Cordelia the details of Wesley’s ruse. “I don’t want to him to see the necklace,” he added, glancing at the ornament resting around Cordelia’s neck. The scooped neckline of Cordelia’s blouse completely exposed the piece of jewelry.
“I don’t trust him,” he stated. Angel couldn’t help but notice how the gold, silver and copper contrasted with the smooth creaminess of her skin. He stood momentarily memorized by the sight.
“Oh, Angel, this could be good,” she whispered urgently. “Who would have thought Wesley would have the sense to create such a tale. Who knows maybe the book guy as what it takes to become a detective? Wow, Sam Wesley Spade.”
“Cordelia,” shushed Angel.
“Angel,” she said pulling away from the vampire. “Wesley set up the story, now we have to just go with it. I personally think that it’s not needed. I know that the necklace is good, but if it will satisfy your overly suspicious grr instincts, then I say I become the dimwitted client and find out what he knows.” Cordelia eyes beamed with excitement.
“No, you stay up here,” Angel ordered.
“Bah,” she said loudly, her voice carrying down to the lobby. “I don’t believe you. I don’t care what you and Daddy say the Necklace’s power is real. Your stupid ‘expert’ won’t convince me otherwise,” she yelled, her eyes daring Angel to do anything but go along with her.
Angel stood shock still, amazement and anger warred with in the vampire. He glared at his seer’s self-satisfied smirk. Angel couldn’t decide whether he should drag his brazenly impetuous seer up into his room and lock the door or hug her in pride at just another example of her inherent courage and impulsiveness.
Both traits that he had long ago began to appreciate and love in Cordelia. Hold on, love? He didn’t love Cordelia. He appreciated her and cared about her that went without saying, but not love. Angel couldn’t love her that wouldn’t be right. She was his seer, his friend, a young beautiful innocent, someone who meant more to him than his own life, but he didn’t love her.
But, while he couldn’t love her, he did need her and value her tremendously, though sometimes he didn’t know why, he thought, as Cordelia scrunched up her face and stuck her tongue out at him in smug glee.
Cordelia had taken Angel’s indecision on a course of action as supplication to her wishes. She bounded down the stairs quickly, just in case she was wrong.
Angel shook his head and followed. He would play along up and until the situation became dangerous to Cordelia, if that occurred then he would lock her up in the bedroom and take charge.
Wesley and Gunn looked at each in confusion as they heard Cordelia’s loud comments.
“Your young client?” Dr. Red Bear asked.
Wesley shrugged lamely.
Dr. Red Bear waited expectantly watching the foot of the stairs.
Angel almost bumped into Cordelia as she stopped suddenly. Angel heard her sharp intake of breath. “Wow,” she whispered.
“Cordelia?” the vampire questioned, looking for what had grabbed at Cordelia’s attention. His brows drew together in puzzlement as he saw that it was the Professor that had captured her fascination.
“Geez, why didn’t any one tell me that the Indian Dr. Animal guy was gorgeous, wow..” she said again. Angel’s confused expression was replaced with a frown.
Gorgeous, Cordelia thought that the Doctor was gorgeous? Angel studied the Professor. Angel guessed the Indian was good looking, but what did that have to do with anything? And why did it bother him that Cordelia thought the young man was attractive.
Cordelia stared at the young Professor. He really was gorgeous, she thought. Every female cell in her body, screamed out in appreciation of the young man’s tall muscular build and his strong classical features.
The Indian oozed virility and masculinity. Cordelia hadn’t reacted this way to a man’s physical appearance in geez, she didn’t know in how long. Definitely not since she first saw Angel in the Bronze all those years ago. Cordelia had thought Angel was the hottest, sexiest guy she had ever seen back then.
That was of course before she found out he was a grr guy and enthralled with Buffy. Once she had discovered those relevant tidbits Cordelia had managed to block out any feeling of attraction that she had had regarding the vampire.
Objectively she still considered Angel good looking, after all he was. But, the whole blood drinking and not breathing aspect of being a dead guy was not really big a turn on.
But, this man, was definitely a live, breathing example of male beauty. He was almost as sexy as Angel was. Whoa, Cordelia stopped her thoughts. Where did that come from? She could have sworn that she had crushed all those thoughts of Angel a long time ago.
When had she begun to think of him as being sexy again? Cordelia turned and studied the frowning vampire as if for the first time.
Yep, her friend was sexy all blood drinking, non-breathing, broody, annoying, strong, good, caring parts of him. Her stomach danced and nerves sung at the acknowledgement of her long suppressed awareness.
Oh dear, she thought; now she would have to squelch that realization all over again. It wouldn’t do for her to get all tingling every time she was in the presence of her best friend, no good at all. Cordelia shook her head and concentrated on the handsome Professor.
“So, you are supposed to convince me that this necklace is fake. Hi, I’m Cordelia.” She walked up to the professor, shooting him her best Cordelia smile.
Wesley and Gunn’s eyes widened, they both shot questioning looks at Angel. Angel just scowled more and shrugged.
Dr. Red Bear gazed at the young girl and the necklace gleaming around her neck. The professor had not thought that it would be this easy to find the necklace. But there it was right in front of him resting around the neck of a very pretty young woman.
“Umm, Hello.” The young man resisted the urge to grab the necklace and run.
“Well, start convincing, but let me tell you. It is going to be rather difficult. Daddy has been trying for just ages. You know I think it would be a whole lot cheaper for him just to let me buy this,” she pointed again to the necklace.
“They are charging him an arm and leg,” Cordelia gestured to Angel, Wesley and Gunn. “Like they could convince me of anything, ummph,” she huffed.
“The Shaman told you that this necklace has healing properties?” John forced his eyes away from the necklace to meet Cordelia’s smiling brown ones. John gulped. The young woman wasn’t just pretty she was beautiful.
“Yep, and it does. The stone, the metals, all of it.” She nodded.
“He gave you the necklace with out payment?” John asked, trying to concentrate on anything rather than the necklace and the girl’s large brown eyes. Actually, they weren’t just brown, he thought as he saw tiny specks of gold shining through the darkness of her irises giving her eye’s a deep warm glow.
Cordelia gave a wide smile. “Oh, I paid him some money. Just not the whole amount. You see that’s when Daddy found out. It seems, I can only take so much out of my trust account without the bank-notifying Daddy,” she pouted.
“I guess, I took too much,” she said smiling again. “Boy, he was mad. Anyway,” she shrugged. “The Shaman said that if I wore it the stones would become attuned with my body’s natural elements and I’d be able to utilize its power. He said, he would come back for the rest of the money in a couple of days, after I’m satisfied that it works. And I am satisfied that it works.” Cordelia couldn’t help but shoot a purposeful look at Angel.
“Um, why do you think that,” John asked, finally able to focus on the subject and not the girl or the sight of the necklace.
“I just do,” she smiled. “Now, why don’t you tell me why I shouldn’t. By the way, I told you my name, what’s yours.” She looked expectantly at the young man.
“Um, sorry, John, John Red Bear.” He stuttered. The light- hearted babble of the young girl was making him unbalanced.
“It’s not just John, though is it, it’s Doctor, uh. An all scholarly one, gee, I always thought Professors were all old and stodgy,” Cordelia smiled. “But, you’re not, are you John,” Cordelia smiled happily.
Wesley and Gunn looked worriedly at Angel. The vampire had been watching Cordelia’s performance intently. He hadn’t moved or said a word, but both Gunn and Wesley could sense the growing tension in Angel’s stance.
“Um, Wes, man, you better do something, I think I see smoke puffing from the vamp’s ears,” he whispered.
Angel glared at the young black young. Gunn’s words hadn’t been low enough to escape the vampire’s sensitive hearing. He wasn’t angry at the attention Cordelia was giving the young doctor; he was just worried about the Professor’s real motivation for being here.
Cordelia was oblivious to the quiet exchange of her friends. She lightly pulled at John’s hand and moved him towards the couch. “Come on, let’s sit and you can tell me all about why I shouldn’t believe the old man.”
John followed unresistingly, sitting next to the lovely young girl. John suddenly felt like he was fifteen again, all legs and arms, with too large of features and feeling awkward around the opposite sex. He couldn’t understand it. He hadn’t felt that way around woman, since well, since he was fifteen.
It wasn’t until the summer of his sixteenth year that his body caught up with the rest of him. Then the girls no longer laughed at him, but giggled in flirtatious appreciation of his looks. Since that time, he had never felt shy or bumbling around females of any age.
But, this girl with her wide smile and frank warm stare was making him nervous. It wasn’t just that she was beautiful, he saw pretty co-eds daily in his classes and they never effected him, not in this way. It was her eyes, he thought.
His father had always told him that a person’s true spirit could be seen through the eyes. And what he saw in this young woman’s eyes took his breath away. John saw pain within her eyes. This young woman had experience tragedy, but that pain could not dim the joy and compassion with in her.
What he saw was a spirit that would never give up and never stop caring. There was no part of her that was evil; she was a true innocent. He had to get the necklace away from her anyway he could, even if that meant ripping it off her neck and running, because, if Bathym found her, her spirit would be broken and her innocence destroyed.
John glanced at the other occupants in the room. The path from the couch to the exit was clear. He could make it. He was very fast. John smiled at Cordelia. “Can you please take the necklace off, I would like to examine it,” he asked preparing himself to take the necklace and run.
Almost instantly, Angel appeared next to the seated Professor. He placed a strong hand on the larger man’s shoulder, preventing the doctor from moving or reaching for out for the necklace. The vampire had sensed the Indian’s preparation for flight. “No,” both he and Cordelia said at the same time.
Cordelia scrunched her face at Angel. “Angel,” she grumbled, her expression telling the vampire that she could handle the question and to stay out of it, completely unaware of John’s hidden intention to take the necklace and run.
John stared up into Angel’s cold dark eyes. Those eyes, the young Indian couldn’t read, if there was a soul in those eyes it was hidden in the black fathomless orbs of the man’s eyes. John studied the pale dark man, Angel had moved with a sudden speed and grace, his grip was hard and strong. John wasn’t used to submitting to another man’s power.
Since, he was sixteen he had always been the faster, stronger boy and that hadn’t change since he had become an adult and had learned better to utilize his physical strength and abilities. He tried to move his shoulder away, but it wouldn’t budge.
“Angel,” Cordelia called again in exasperation. Cordelia didn’t know why the vampire was being getting all ‘grry’, but if he so much as let out a little growl, she would lay into him something terrible.
She smiled apologetically at John. “You will have to forgive him, just because Daddy is paying Angel a lot of money, he thinks of the necklace as being his. But it’s not is it Angel, it’s mine the wise one gave it to me,” she emphasized. “Not to you, to me. Now let go of John’s shoulder you are messing up his nice expensive suit.” She glared at the vampire.
John didn’t know what surprised him more Cordelia’s nonchalant use of the First Shaman’s title or that Angel had immediately let go of John’s shoulder. For one brief instance, John had been able to read Angel’s eyes. The young Indian cringed at the anger evident in the other’s eyes.
The rage was directed towards the young woman. Cordelia unflinching met his fierce gaze. “That’s better,” she commented. “Are you all right?” she asked John sweetly. “He didn’t hurt you or anything, did he? Sometimes, I think Angel forgets that he is not some sort of supernatural superhero, but just an ordinary human private eye.”
“Cordelia, Cordy,” both Wesley and Gunn jumped in attempting to say anything or do anything to diffuse the tension in the lobby.
“Shut up,” Cordelia glared. “This is obviously not the place for us to talk. Come on, John. Let’s go and get some lunch. Yes, let’s go find a nice outdoor café, with plenty of UV-filled bright sunny rays.” She tugged at the Professor to get up.
“Cordelia,” Angel warned.
Both Cordelia and John stopped at the growl the emitted from Angel’s throat. John had stopped in surprise and some trepidation. Cordelia, though, had stopped in anger and irritation. Cordelia left John’s side a marched over to Angel.
“Angel, I’m going. There is nothing you can do it about it…”
“Cordelia,” Wesley begged. He wasn’t sure when he had ever seen Angel so enraged. “Cordelia, please….”
“Be quiet.” She ordered without breaking eye contact with the vampire. “Angel, like I was saying, there is nothing you can do about it, except tie me up and lock me upstairs. But you won’t do that because that wouldn’t be polite. What would Dr. Red Bear think, after all he is here at your request to find out the information that you need, not me,” she said succinctly.
“He’s going to do it,” Gunn whispered to Wesley. “The vamp is going to tie Cordy up,” the young black man paused. “Do we try to talk him out of it or do we let him,” he questioned.
“Sh,” Wesley ordered.
“Angel,” Cordelia whined, her anger vanishing at the vampire’s fierce glare. “Come one, it’s not like I’ll be alone. I know that as soon as I walk out that door, you will send the dynamic duo to follow me. I’ll be all right. I promise.”
“You can’t promise me things that you can’t control.” Angel whispered harshly, his hands reaching up to cup her face.
“Angel, you can’t hold my hand when I go out into the street, you know it. Now be good. I’ll be back soon,” she promised, her hands embracing his gently.
John was even now even more confused. Angel’s eyes still reflected his original passionate fury, but the Indian had also seen love and concern in that same passion. Angel did have a soul, but as far as John could interpret it was a very conflicted one. John wasn’t at all sure that an innocent such as Cordelia was safe in such a strife-ridden soul’s hands.
It may be necessary for him to save Cordelia not only from the potential danger of Bathym but from Angel as well.
“Wesley, Gunn- go,” Angel ordered as Cordelia and Dr. Red Bear left the hotel.
“Right,” Gunn said and went to go get his keys. Wesley went to follow.
“Wesley,” Angel called after his friend.
“Yes.” Wesley was relieved to see that most of the anger had left Angel, now he was just concerned.
Angel beckoned the former watcher closer.
“Yes, what is it, Angel?” Wesley stared in amazement as Angel’s expression became befuddled. That was the last thing he expected after the earlier tension filled hour. “Speak up, Angel. I don’t want to loose Cordelia. I’m sure you don’t want us to either,” Wesley emphasized.
“Of course, I don’t. Keep Cordelia in your sight’s at all times.”
“Yes, well, that will be a little difficult if you don’t tell me what’s on your mind, so we can go.” Wesley prodded.
Angel nodded but refused to look at his friend, but stared at Gunn getting his stuff together to go. “ Do you think he is good-looking?” Angel finally asked.
“Who, Gunn?” Wesley squeaked.
“What? No, the ‘expert’” Angel spit out. “Cordelia said he was gorgeous.”
“Oh,” Wesley said in relief. He hadn’t been at all comfortable with dissecting Gunn’s attractiveness. “Um, I don’t know, I guess he was handsome, if you like the type.”
“Yes, you know, tall, dark, handsome, well-built, intelligent, successful, etc. You know that type.”
“Oh, so you do think Cordelia is attracted to him,” the vampire said dejectedly.
Oh lord, Wesley thought, first they had to put up with Angel’s whining about whether Cordelia was still mad at him. Then they had to put up with his over-protectiveness and the ranting and pouting that it caused in Cordelia, now they were going to have to put up him Angel’s sudden insecurity about his attractiveness to his seer.
“Angel, don’t worry. I’m sure that Cordelia thinks you are much better looking than Dr. Red Bear.” Wesley reassured the vampire.
“What? What do I care if Cordelia thinks I’m good-looking? I’m just worried that she will let the fact the he is ‘gorgeous’ effect her judgment as to her own safety that’s all. And what are you still doing here? Go after them. And call me if anything, I mean anything happens.” Angel ordered, turning away from his friend.
“Right, of course.” Wesley sighed and went to join Gunn at the door.
“So, what was that about,” asked Gunn.
“Don’t ask, just don’t ask.” Wesley shook his head and headed out the door.